Sunday, June 30, 2013

PTSD Awareness Month + Easy 4th of July Manicure

Hi sweetie!

I found out today through a post my husband saw on facebook that this month is PTSD awareness month.

So here I am hopping on the bandwagon just in time before the month is over, whew.  OK, who else knew it was PTSD awareness month, anyone? No?  Not me!

I only learned the facts about it recently, when I watched the psychiatrist testify in the Jodi Arias trial for the defense. He read aloud the things that make up a diagnosis of PTSD from the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version - IV, a book doctors use to diagnose) so I understood for the first time exactly how it is diagnosed.

The diagnostic criteria are a little something like this:

309.81    DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present: 
(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways: 
(1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
(2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.

(3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
(4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
(5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following: 
(1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma 
(2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma 
(3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma 
(4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities 
(5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others 
(6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings) 
(7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following: 
(1) difficulty falling or staying asleep
(2) irritability or outbursts of anger
(3) difficulty concentrating
(4) hypervigilance
(5) exaggerated startle response
E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.
F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Specify if:
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more
Specify if:
With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor


PTSD sufferers lives can be affected to an extreme degree.  This disorder is devastating and life threatening when it is manifest in the most extreme cases, not just to the sufferer, but to their loved ones, friends and even strangers.  Our nation's military personnel are said to suffer from this with alarming frequency, suffering to the point of suicide in some terrible instances.  This is one of the most heartbreaking truths of war which we do not discuss in polite society, but it is real.  

So I want to raise awareness of PTSD today by talking about it a bit, and also by sharing my own experience. I didn't know I might even have it until I requested my medical files and saw "PTSD" in the notes of a doctor I had once seen.  

I got many symptoms of it from different things in my life. As a young woman, I got shades of it when I was raped as a teenager. Most recently, I felt was traumatized when I moved in a new neighborhood. After years of saving, looking, dreaming and finally hauling all our stuff we gathered for the home of our dreams, I was bullied and cursed at by my new neighbors and and robbed soon afterwards by persons unknown. Hmmmm, right?  Anyway.

I had trouble sleeping because of what happened. I couldn't eat for a while, and lost weight I was so distressed.  I had outbursts of rage and ranted about the situation.  I could not let the situation go, I kept going over and over it in my mind, talking about it again and again.  When I walked outside my door, I was hypervigilant, looking left and right and right again to make sure I didn't see anyone scary. If I thought I saw something I jumped and gasped and looked over my shoulder.  I did not go outside for a time, and I still do not like going to a certain spot on my street.  If I recall the situation my heart may pound and it is like I am right back there.  If I see a car the same make and model of the one that that is associated with the incident, I tense up. If I see the person  I tense up.  My heart rate goes up and I am in defense mode.  This interfered with my life for a while.  This, I know, compared to a soldier's experience in war, was "fluffy pink girly trauma lite", but it still affected my life in significant ways.

The good news here is that I have learned how to deal with this bully, and now I am thankful to God for giving me this person as my neighbor, because now I know how to deal with a very mean person!  Here is what I did!

I put her in the shade.  My husband and I redid our front garden ourselves. I went right out in my front yard and made it go from a weed patch to a flower garden full of bees and butterflies and now I am meeting nice neighbors and collecting compliments!  Turns out my bully isn't so popular around here LOL, and many people like me because we bought a foreclosure and made it look much better,  one of them told us we upgraded the neighborhood.

Trauma, if we live it is likely thatwe will suffer them, in some form.  Most of us get past the traumas in time, with help of supportive friends and family. I have.  And the good news is, if we can get past them, they make us stronger.  

The hard part is getting past trauma.  For me the key is turning toward positive things in life, to distract myself from the bad things.  For me, gardening is a very positive thing.  The love of family or a friend can be a very positive and healing thing also.  Love of animals, art, beauty, anything that takes your mind to a higher plane of thought and distracts from things you dislike and fear can elevate your mind and spirit and temporarily then permanently heal the mind from trauma, though a scar remains.

If someone suffers from PTSD, they probably need help to recover their peace of mind and tranquility.  They need patience, reassurance, love and understanding, just like we all do.  They also need a little bit of a break sometimes, because they may come off a little testy, or grumpy, but really, they are just trying to deal with things the best they can.  Maybe they just need someone to listen to their stories again and again until they don't come up so often, and fade away.  Maybe they need someone to let them know it will be ok.  Drugs or pills or alcohol or a suicide are not the answer, but that is what some sufferers reach for.

What they may need is a someone to reach out to them, hold their hand or give them a big hug, just a hug from someone who cares.

If you have suffered PTSD, or have had a trauma, here you go (((((HUG)))))) Everything will be alright, no matter what.

Here is an easy 4th of July manicure in support of all PTSD sufferers, I wish you freedom from your pain as soon as is possible! I used:

Wet n Wild White Creme
Opi Pink Shatter
OPI Blue Shatter
Fergie Hollywood Walk of Fame
Fergie New Year's Kiss
Icing Patriotic

I am holding a  new scarf I got at Forever 21, though it is too hot to wear it for the 4th, I thought at the time it was a better idea than a flag t shirt. Plus I couldn't find one I liked : /

My right hand. I hope you forgive my mess, I just wanted to show the cool nail cracks I got there too, I didn't have patience for clean up.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Platinum Linings

Hello and welcome to my first Platinum Linings post!

Here is a lovely mani I enjoyed for Memorial Day, and will work well for the 4th of July!

This is ICING Quick Sand "Sand Dollar" with a layer of ICING Patriotic over the top.

I was in ICING yesterday and they had both of these in stock, but Patriotic was down to a couple or three bottles.

ICING Quick Sand is a texture polish and it is gorgeous,with small sparkling sand and small silver glitters.  Patriotic is Red White and Blue large hexes in clear glitter.  It is AWESOME. So together these two are gorgeous AWESOME.

The quick sand looks great at one coat and is a very FAST drying polish. You can do one coat and your nails look gorgeously glimmery, with a bit of VNL, but it is so pretty, you could stand it for a quick trip to get gas, aka petrol. ; )  It is not hard to remove either! These textures are a great base for your chunky glitters. ( I hope you can check me on this, if you try it I would LOVE to know what you think!) I think they may be easier to remove over a texture than regular polish!

If you want to read my first Platinum Linings post, read on!   I will always have a polish post then a Platinum Linings post to share each time, so there is something pretty for your eyeballs to see : )  The manicures will be related to the subject of the post. This is my way to show love for my subject and reflect it on my nails!  Today's nails are platinum colored, so there you have the tie in for today! : D

My Platinum Linings are Many!

Though I just  got diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago, I have never been happier or more fulfilled in my life.

A big reason for this is what I call "Platinum Linings", the sweet rewards which I am lucky to realize now at this stage of life.

Each of these people or things deserve an entire post, which I am planning to do, and I will include a tribute manicure with each post.

Family - Members of my family are 100% supportive of me in everything I need. Relationships have either been strengthened or broken, which is actually really all for the good.

Community - Members of my community have provided me with nutritious cooked home delivered free food, wigs, makeup, hats and emotional support.  This has been very overwhelming at times, because I don't feel comfortable taking things or asking for help. I want to say I am not soliciting or asking for anything here. I have been blessed with all I need.

Blogging Friends - Here, friends of my blog, have provided me with such wonderful encouragement at this time when I need it most.  You didn't have to, but you did take time to comment or email me, or talk with me on twitter, and it really cheers me up to no end!  I smile and laugh at least once every day because of one of my friends. I thank you, each and every one of you reading this now. Much love and happiness I wish for you in return for providing me with a big lift here : )

Personal Growth Experience - Having cancer has caused me to do things that I would not have done otherwise, and in actuality, they are things I wanted to do but had not done before.  Such as purchasing a wig.  Or volunteer to be a model for the Look Good Feel Better train the teachers class for the American Cancer Society. By the way, to the beautiful volunteers and Barbara and Tony D, I recieved the card and it is one of the nicest I have ever received. Thank YOU for the opportunity to help women who will help other women with cancer. I want to do that again and take pictures this time.

Perspective Change - Now I feel the need to do things a bit more urgently as I feel a time pressure. This is not bad at all!

Appreciation for Life

Loss of Fear

Becoming a WoW (Woman of Wisdom) -Thank goodness getting older has it's rich rewards!

Etc Etc Etc

Until the next time
Platinum Linings and nail polish I wish for you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Introducing the New Series - After The Cut

Hello and welcome to the first installment of my new series After the Cut, where I update you on my treatment for Her 2 positive, hormone positive breast cancer after the lumpectomy.

Hi, just a quickie update. I came through the chemo session fine!  I didn't have any immediate reactions, which is very good news.

I don't even feel tired, yet. In fact I started to become insomniac. I think I am feeling tingling in my hands and feet which may mean my small finger and toe nerves are being attacked by the chemo, which can damage them.  This is some of the bad news for me, Herceptin and chemo damages hands and nails sometimes.  Splitting, peeling, discoloration and lifting and even loss of nails can occur. I KNOW.  Only five more hard chemo sessions to go now over 17 weeks, but still 51 weeks of Herceptin.

Oh, I decided to get the same BRCA gene test Angelina had done. I will weigh the results in my decision to perhaps opt for a double mastectomy later if I have the mutation of the gene. It will take two months to get the results.  I learned we all have the BRCA genes 1 and 2, the mutation or damage to the gene is the problem.  The idea of no more mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and lumpectomies is quite appealing, I am slightly more likely to get breast or ovarian cancer now, because I already had cancer.  If I have the gene mutation also, I will strongly consider the DMX.

I wore these lavender nails to a lavender farm. This is OPI Rumple's Wiggin, a favorite light purple cream. A great polish for any day, especially if you go to a lavender farm. It covers well in two coats, as I am showing it here with topcoat. I have worn this one a few times, which says it is a favorite.

I am planning a post of Platinum Linings right now, to share the uplifting and wonderful things that have happened to me as a result of the cancer diagnosis. The blessings I am realizing are really piling up.

One of them is you, my readers and friends who have taken time to read and have even commented here and have offered me so much support.  I cannot express to you enough how much this means to me right now.  Thank you very much for reading and supporting me!  I feel so much hope and support right now and it is such a wonderful feeling .


Monday, June 17, 2013

Spilling the Beans

Hi honeys!

I hope you are well. I have missed posting here, but I just haven't had the mojo.  I have been keeping my nails polished though.

We went out to dinner for our anniversary.
I wore these patriotic nails.

I have been photographing my hair when it looks nice because I will lose it in a few weeks.

We went out for my 50th birthday.

  I checked this item of my bucket list: Visit lavender farm in bloom.

I got two free wigs and some free makeup from the American Cancer Society!

And I decided to write something I am very nervous to publish, but I have wanted to do it for a long time.  I have been keeping myself to myself for a long time now. Now that I have cancer, I feel that maybe I need to go ahead and say what I want to say, because maybe it could help someone else to talk about these things.  And I love helping people.

I have decided to write here about my experience with getting HER2 positive, hormone positive Stage 1 breast cancer at age 49 in a couple of  new blog features. One I will call After the Cut, which will detail my treatment after lumpectomy. The other one will be Platinum Linings, where I would like to make lemons from this lemonade and focus on the positive things that happen to me as a result of having breast cancer.  I would like to share aspects of my recovery with you in updates, I will mostly cover things you would not likely expect or know about if you have not had this treatment, or were familiar with it.

Most of us are "AWARE" of breast cancer.  I was, and I had some knowledge of what happens to women who get it. They need a lumpectomy or mastectomy, maybe chemo, radiation etc.  But there is much much more to know, as I am learning. I will be writing about the effects of my treatment as they relate to my nails especially, and to my life in general also.

I am afraid I will not survive the chemotherapy treatment, so I want to document what happens to me, and the hope is that someday I will look back on this dark time and see how wrong I was.  My body is super sensitive to medications.  I had the terrible experience one time of taking a medication that resulted in my life being turned upside down.  I have often thought of writing my story of what happened to me, it would make an interesting horror movie I think.

Short story version, when I was in my former unhappy marriage, I took an antidepressant. It caused me to feel happier.  Very happy.  Way too happy.  So happy that I could no longer function in my activities of living. Do you know what I am talking about here?  Possibly not, manic depression is not something you may be familiar with.  I never tell anyone this, it is so humiliating.  I was diagnosed as manic depressive - in other words, the antidepressant caused  me to become MANIC - and tagged with a diagnosis of BIPOLAR DISORDER.  This is a documented phenomenon that occurs in some patients who take anti- depressants. I didn't know this could happen, if I did, I wonder if I would have taken the anti depressant anyway? Perhaps not.

So I got really happy, what is the problem? Symptoms I experienced in mania were:

NOTE: This all happened in my initial severe episode. I do not have these levels of symptoms any more. Now I am able to recognize and stop an episode from getting this bad. The first time I didn't know what was happening to me, so it just ramped right up.

Agitation - a very upset irritated and angry feeling
Hair trigger temper - Part of this was from PTSD from multiple traumas and abuse I have experienced in the past
Mood swings - Anger to crying in moments
Overspending - I thought I could start business or justify spending more money than usual because I think I am very smart and powerful
Loss of Concentration - I could in no way organize my thoughts to do a skilled task like average numbers
Over sexualization - I was taking actions to be with men other than my husband
Drug and Alcohol abuse - I was self medicating with alcohol and weed, to calm myself and relieve the mental anguish
Delusional - I had ideas that I could start a successful business sewing pillows which was pretty strange for me, or that I could do things or affect change where I could not, like telling my boss how he should do things as if I were his boss. Not a good career move!
Paranoid - I was thinking that people were talking about me, in a bad way, which they probably were based on my behavior.
Outgoing and Extroverted - I was suddenly speaking with strangers, something I never used to initiate I am a total introvert by nature.
Pressured speech - the words cant come out fast enough, nonstop talking/ranting

"manic depression is a frustrating mess" - Jimmy Hendrix had it right.

The worst thing now I experience is insomnia, mood swings, agitation, and I have some large remnants of a bad temper.  I have to be careful and make sure that if I start not sleeping I need to just lay there and try because that is how the mania starts.  Once I begin a pattern of sleeplessness it will begin to repeat itself and then I am manic again.  I would say that I am doing really well with it now, it is completely in control now, it is almost not a factor in my life at all anymore.  I just have to be sure to maintain good "sleep hygiene" and go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. I feel that it knocked my confidence down a huge amount, but I am close to over that now, almost twenty years later.

So now, when my doctors are telling me that I  need to take chemotherapy medication with severe side effects I am terrified of having my life altered by medicine again, not in a good way.  I could die immediately, or die slowly from the effects of the regimen that I have to take.  So here is why I had trouble to decide to take the therapy.

If I take the chemo, I will improve my chances of remaining disease free by 12-15% or so.  I was told something like 8 out of 100 women will be alive with no cancer in ten years because of Herceptin, the special drug for my HER 2 + (positive) cancer type.  But, 4 out of 100 women will have heart failure from the medication, which may be irreversible, and can happen any time after the medication is administered. There is a risk that I may die from this or the other chemo drugs, or complications of treatment, quickly or slowly, though small.  But, I remember the odds of my getting HER 2 + cancer at 49 years old were less than half a percent, so small odds don't mean all that much to me now.

I still have trouble believing I have HER2 + cancer. The only way I know is the lab tested my cancer, twice yes, but the test has a 40% error rate.  So in my mind there is a still a chance the tests are wrong. I am putting my life on the line based on some test results in a lab somewhere, that I don't trust completely.  This is the hardest choice I have ever had to make. There is a more accurate test I could have had done, but my oncologist poo poohed me, saying if the inaccurate test was done twice it is probably right. But what if it isn't????

Since I wrote last, I have been struggling with the decision to take chemotherapy. It is a very harsh eighteen week regimen with additional treatments for years, with life threatening risks.  I made the decision to take the chemo.

I have been very fit and healthy up to now. so I am reluctant to pour toxins in my veins that can potentially kill me.  However, I am convinced that the cancer I have is aggressive enough to warrant such a harsh treatment.  HER 2 + is very aggressive cancer type and tends to recur pretty fast, most of the time within five years.  If I have no chemo, there is a better than 25% chance that the cancer will be back within five years and at that time assuming our current technology, it will not be curable at that point.

The chemotherapy has risks, the drugs have side effects that can prove fatal, however rare.  I will lose my hair in three weeks.  I just had a surgery to put a "port" in my chest leading directly into my jugular vein, so the chemo can be injected there instead of my arm veins. The reason is that the chemo eventually ruins your arm veins, it is so harsh.  Or if the chemicals leak it will kill the spot on my skin where it touches!  ERMAGERD.

So I start chemo tomorrow Tuesday June 18th. I have to sit with an infusion going into my vein for five and a half hours that day.  First they give anti nausea meds, and other meds to help with the effects. Then one chemo drug for one hour, then another for another hour, then Herceptin for an hour and a half.  I will watch the drip drip and wait to see what happens to me.  I may have a reaction right then and have to stop the treatment for good or just temporarily.

I could have an allergic reaction right then or in a few hours or days : (  I am sure that is very very rare, but I prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

The odds are very much in favor of a full recovery for me.  With the treatment there is an 85% to 90% chance or better that I will be free of cancer and alive in five years. I am doing what I want when I want.  I am appreciating what I have and the people I love more than ever.   I understand if this subject is not your cup of tea. It is not mine.

Thank you for reading and for your wonderful support. Thank you so much.